National fraud scheme could be 20 years in prison for Alpharetta woman

An Alpharetta woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges related to a nationwide casino and credit card scheme.

Vivian Wang, 54, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of California announced.

Wang faces two to 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. Her case was the product of a joint investigation by the FBI and California’s Bureau of Gambling Control.

LexisNexis, an online public records and research system, flags Wang’s social security number as being linked to multiple people.

BACKGROUND | Wang was charged with the crimes in August

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between 2008 and 2014, Wang and a co-defendant — Frank Luo, 49, of Las Vegas — participated in a scheme to defraud casinos and credit card companies across the country. The scheme involved using the names and social security numbers of migrant workers to apply for casino credit and to open credit card accounts.

Casino credit — also called a “marker” — is a cash advance provided by a casino to a patron, and it is often secured by a check from the patron’s bank account, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Initially, Wang and Luo paid off several of these “markers” on time to give the impression of “credit worthiness” to casinos and credit card companies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. But then Wang and Luo recruited “clients” to participate in the scheme to induce the casinos and credit card companies to part with even more money under fraudulent pretenses.

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Wang and others working with her coordinated their gambling activity to give the appearance of losing money, which encouraged the casinos to issue future “markers,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The investigation found that one schemer would “lose” money while another would gain the same.

In other instances, one schemer would secretly deliver the issued gambling chips to another to give the appearance of having spent them, the investigation found.

Wang and her co-schemers did not repay the casino markers or the outstanding credit card balances accrued. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the fraud led to more than $1.1 million in losses to casinos and credit card companies.

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Luo pleaded guilty in August 2017 and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Online records show that Wang declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia on Jan. 27, 2010.

Records also show that she lived in a five-bedroom home on Relais Trace in Alpharetta from 2007 to 2016. Most recently, she lived in Lilburn.

In 2001, records show she was arrested and charged with felony grand theft in Dade County, Florida.

Wang is scheduled to be sentenced on May 16.

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